I know it’s a cliché to say it, but does anyone know where the year has gone? I wish I could say it had been a perfect 12 months (don’t we all) but in truth 2018 was a rollercoaster. Some moments of pure joy and success, coupled with real moments of sadness.
Many times last year I had to find reserves of strength to face challenges I would never have anticipated as a younger woman. It is my research for motivation and support to do this well – watching videos, reading columns and the ideas of others – that have made it easier and this is what I share with you today.
The Good Life is Built on This …
When you started out in life, what did you think would make you most happy? For many of us, it was achievement, money and fame. As we age, that often changes, but some of us retain a sense of wishing that we had more or had accomplished greater things.
In fact, the biggest predictor of what will make us happy was discovered in study carried out by Harvard over 75 years; our social and familial relationships.
In his TEDx talk, Psychiatrist Robert Waldinger shared that throughout the lives of over 700 men, from their teens to their 90s, no matter what wealth or success the participants experienced, it was their connections to the world and one another that acted as a buffer against the realities of the world.
This was an active theme for me in 2018. My sadness when I lost my father prompted me to explore his lifelong devotion to my mother and to us, and raised questions around the legacy I’d leave with my own family and friends.
Challenge yourself to assess your relationships honestly and openly in 2019. Do you need to socialise more? Or prioritise loved ones over work? The benefits to your whole life if you can do this are multiple.
Find the Strength to Fight for Others …
Serena Williams, 23-times Open Winner, is an easy choice for inspirational icons – but I’m long past Wimbledon standard tennis and have little desire to attempt to be.
I was interested in her umpire challenge in her match against Naomi Osaka back in September. Her argument that men have been doing the same for decades didn’t impress me; it’s poor sportsmanship, regardless of gender, and I’d rather men were challenged for it than women joining in.
More than this though is that, despite her huge career and busy family, Serena uses her experience of mental health struggles to fight campaigns to educate other women. Namely a brilliant campaign raising awareness of financial abuse (coercive control) in domestic relationships.
It’s an issue that impacts many more women than we realise, particularly those who’ve stayed at home to raise children, sacrificing their careers in the process, and it’s vital that we support those women to know life doesn’t need to be that way.
Use Silence when It Matters …
So often we hear young people today referred to ‘snowflakes’; an oversensitive generation who can’t take criticism and only want to be reality television star winners.
19 year old Emma Gonzales proved how wrong that really is. After she lost friends in the Parkland shooting in February, she became a gun control activist.
In her speech in Washington she read out the names of the victims and then remained silent for 6 minutes and 20 seconds – the exact length of time it took the gunman to end their lives.
She reminded me that, in a world seemingly full of posturing, hot air and empty promises, one woman’s quiet dignity can be enough to say everything necessary, right when it needs to be said.
Let Your Mistakes Define You …
When I talk about finding a new version of yourself in your 50s, I certainly couldn’t anticipate that this would mean finding yourself in prison. But that’s exactly what happened to Barbara Burton when, after half a century of clean living, she committed a financial fraud.
Instead of allowing her time served to destroy her though, she’s taken the experience and turned it into an employment opportunity for women when they’re released from prison that goes right to the heart of our femininity.
Her social enterprise, BehindBras, gives women the chance to carry out meaningful employment and offers real opportunities for change to its employees.
In Studio10, I’ve built a business with a team of women who are diverse and unique, and I know the joy in seeing them progress and develop, so I identify with Barbara when she says:
"I’m delighted that making elegant, well-designed lingerie can benefit women, who with care, help and belief can fulfil their potential."
My sincere hope is that no matter what 2019 brings you, you’ll find the motivation to achieve everything you hope to – with smiles and laughter all the way.
Happy New Year!